Best Prepaid Debit Cards

The NetSpend Visa Prepaid Card has many benefits, including no credit check, no minimum balance requirements, and no activation fees. In addition, you can get paid via direct deposit up to two days early. There is also a “purchase cushion” that will cover you for up to $10 if you don’t have enough money to pay for a purchase. Other benefits include cash back and up to 5% APY on a linked savings account. Some prepaid debit cards charge fees for monthly maintenance (typically up to $10 a month), foreign transactions and cash reloads, while others don’t. Be sure to shop around and compare fees to find the best prepaid debit card for your budget.

Prepaid debit cards let you add money in advance and use them as needed. You can typically only spend up to the amount on the card, and overdrafts aren’t usually possible. This can help control overspending and be a good option for those who are unbanked. To create this list, Forbes Advisor analyzed 34 prepaid cards from 28 providers, including a mix of traditional brick-and-mortar banks, online banks, credit unions and fintech companies.

  1. The card doesn’t charge a monthly fee or a fee to get the card online or activate it.
  2. Because your name is on the prepaid debit card account, transactions can be traced back to you, as with a credit or regular debit card.
  3. There is a monthly fee, but it’s as low as $2.50 a month, and it’s for the entire family.
  4. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review.
  5. The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® can cost up to $4.95 to purchase the card ($0 if you get the card online) and charges you $4.95 a month to use the card.
  6. Generally, you have to apply for a bank account to get a debit card.

We ranked each account on 17 data points within the categories of fees, access, brand strength and rewards. There typically isn’t a fee to cancel a prepaid debit card, but if you still have money on the card, the issuer may charge you to issue a check for the remaining balance. To avoid this, you can either pay down your balance or withdraw the remaining amount before closing the account. Call your issuer to find out what its specific cancellation policy entails. Serve rewards you with 1% back on all your purchases, which hit your account as soon as the transaction settles. You can’t redeem the rewards as actual cash during ATM withdrawals, but you can apply your cash-back balance to your next in-store or online purchase.

Chase Total Checking®

Prepaid cards are an excellent option for anyone with difficulty accessing traditional banking services, but not all prepaid cards are created equal. Here are some things you should keep in mind while shopping for a prepaid card. Prepaid cards usually have an inactivity fee if you don’t use them within a certain period of time, while debit cards do not. Prepaid cards may also have an expiration date, after which you’ll need to pay a fee for a new card or to access any remaining balance. Gift cards are a type of prepaid card that can only be used with one merchant or within that merchant’s network.

Likewise, if you plan to make numerous ATM withdrawals each month, find a prepaid card that offers free withdrawals. Once you have your list of required features and know how you’ll use the card, find the lowest-cost option that meets these requirements. There is no credit check and no activation fee, but the best part about the card is that you can earn up to 6% APY on savings. You do have to jump through a few hoops to get that rate, however. You'll need signature purchases of $1,500 or more and at least $25 in your account at the end of the month, and you can only earn that rate on up to $2,500.

Besides, her work has been featured in Business Jet Traveler, MSN,, and She owns and operates a small digital marketing and public relations firm that works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility. Cynthia splits her time between Los Angeles, CA and San Sebastian, Spain. She travels to Africa and the Middle East regularly to consult with women's NGOs about small business development. As a cheaper alternative, opt to get a card online, which is often free.

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A prepaid debit card is different from a regular debit card because it is much easier to obtain -- even if you have bad credit or poor banking history. There is no credit check required, although there are additional fees that you may incur for different reasons. However, fees and card limitations can add up quickly, making your prepaid debit card a pricey piece of plastic. So, we found the best prepaid cards that are both convenient and relatively low risk. We considered factors like coverage options, fees, and availability while choosing the top cards. Based on these elements and more, the cards below are the best options for you.

This should make it easier to manage your account while on the move. Credit newcomers looking to build a history without immediately opening a card
account should consider this option. It may be unconventional, but it’s a great way to get started on the journey to
a good credit score. In lieu of a bank account, this can be a convenient option for making and
receiving payments as well as withdrawing cash.

Often, the easiest and most straightforward way to apply is through the card issuer’s website. However, you may also be able to apply at convenience stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retail locations. Typically, you must fill out and submit the application, then wait for processing. If your application is approved, you should receive your prepaid debit card within seven to 10 business days.

You’re signed up

Free reloading options include direct deposit and transfers from your bank or PayPal accounts. You can also load cash at Moneygram, Greendot, and Readylink locations, but a fee may apply. The card charges a $5 monthly fee, but you can get that waived if you have at least $800 directly deposited into your account every month. Prepaid debit cards also aren’t the same as secured credit cards, primarily because they don’t offer a line of credit that you can use and pay off over and over again. Prepaid debit cards are a type of payment method that functions similarly to a traditional debit card. Instead of being tied to a checking account, though, a prepaid card is its own account, and you can only use money you’ve loaded onto it.

Limitations of prepaid debit cards

Like the Bluebird card, there’s a 10-day waiting period for mobile deposits, but you can get the money faster if you pay a fee of 1% or 5% of the check amount (with the minimum fee being $5). A prepaid debit card is similar to a traditional debit card, except that it is preloaded with a specific amount of money. When the balance is low or runs out, you simply reload your card. The American Express Serve Free Reloads Card is similar to its sister card, the Serve Cash Back.

They let you spend up to the amount of money you’ve loaded onto your card and can be reloaded repeatedly. Large pharmacy chains, such as Walgreens and CVS, often have prepaid debit cards available for purchase. If you intend to visit one of these stores soon, look for prepaid cards near the front of the store. Prepaid debit cards—also known as “reloadable” debit cards—allow you to add money to your debit card in advance, so it’s there when you need it.

Losing $500 on a prepaid debit card is like losing $500 in cash. The Serve® card, like many others, allows you to cash checks for free on mobile if you’re willing to wait 10 days for the funds. If you want the money instantly, you’ll be charged a 1% – 5% fee. Because your name is on the prepaid debit card account, transactions can be traced back to you, as with a credit or regular debit card. The American Express Cash back card earns ZDNet's top spot for its cash rewards.

Make sure to read the fine print before you apply for a prepaid debit card. Some cards have activation fees and monthly maintenance charges, which can eat into your spending cash. A prepaid card is relatively easy to get — there is no credit check or minimum balance requirement. best prepaid debit cards You can buy prepaid cards at most grocery and convenience stores, online and over the phone. If you buy the card online, you may be issued a virtual card or receive a physical card in the mail at a later time. Directly deposit payroll, government benefits or tax return funds.

We examined nearly 70 options to help you find the best no fee prepaid debit cards. Prepaid debit cards will not affect your credit score since you’re not borrowing money and can only spend the amount loaded onto the card. However, while prepaid debit cards won’t negatively impact your credit score, they won’t help it either. So if you’re looking to build credit, consider exploring other options such as secured credit cards or second chance credit cards. You can add funds to a card online or at many retail locations like grocery stores and gas stations -- though you’ll likely pay a fee. However, according to Jones, unlike credit cards where you’ll accrue interest charges if you carry a balance, prepaid debit cards can prevent you from overspending.

If you overcharge, your card may be declined or your bank may charge you overdraft fees to cover the purchase. Debit
cards also usually have daily spending limits, so you may not be able to make especially large purchases with a
debit card. Prepaid debit cards are known to have outlandishly high fees, but you may find inexpensive prepaid cards that are useful. This Visa debit card is primarily a virtual card to use online. Although you can order a physical card, there’s a charge of $5.95.

However, some prepaid debit cards partner with large ATM networks, enabling fee-free withdrawals at ATMs around the country. You can typically transfer money from a prepaid debit card to a bank account via your card issuer’s online or mobile portal. You may need to enter your prepaid card details, the amount you want to transfer and the bank account information. The exact transfer process may vary depending on the card issuer, so be sure to check with them before initiating the transfer. The primary difference between a regular debit card and a prepaid debit card is that the former is linked to a bank account while the latter isn’t. You have to load money onto a prepaid debit card—or “prepay”—before you make a purchase.

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